A Coalisland man accused of smuggling 35 immigrants into the UK in a shipping container frantically tried to cover his tracks, a court in England has heard.
Martin McGlinchey, 49, from Coalisland and Stephen McLaughlin, 36, of Derry, both face a charge of conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into the UK in a trial at Basildon Crown Court, Essex.
Michael Goodwin, prosecuting, told the court the plan was foiled when port workers in Tilbury heard the screams of those in the container.
After the operation was sprung, he said, Mr McLaughlin and Mr McGlinchey destroyed mobile phones and Sim cards which might implicate them.
Mr McGlinchey sold a car he thought could link him to two co-conspirators, while Mr McLaughlin booked a short family holiday.
Mr Goodwin said the pair were motivated by financial gain, and that the “very considerable risks” involved meant they would have made a lot of money if the plan had been successful.
McGlinchey, who took the container to Dover before it was transported abroad, said he didn’t know the container was to be used to carry a human cargo.
Meet Singh Kapoor was one of 35 Afghans, including 15 children, found inside the container at Tilbury Docks in Essex on the morning of August 16 2014. The 40-year-old, who was fleeing alleged persecution, died during an overnight crossing from Zeebrugge in Belgium, but the rest of the immigrants survived the cramped journey.